In time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Māori Party candidate for Waiariki Rawiri Waititi has announced the party's policy for te reo Māori.
Waititi was at Brookfield Primary School in Tauranga this morning to announce the policy, saying for the past 200 hundred years, since colonisation, te reo Māori had been on the decline.
To a classroom of about 50 tamariki the Māori Party candidate explained who he was, although many only knew of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The policy announced sets out to ensure New Zealand's name is changed to Aotearoa and that all Pākeha place names, cities and towns will be replaced with their original Māori ingoa (name) by 2026.
Waititi said: "It's a bold move towards making te reo Māori a language for all of Aotearoa. It elevates te reo Māori to its rightful place, in a system that has long undervalued its significance.
"It is unacceptable that only 20 per cent of our people can speak their own language and that only three per cent of the country can speak its official language. We need to be doing more at a systemic level to protect and promote the reo of Aotearoa."
The Māori Party aims to establish a Māori Standards Authority which will have the legislative power to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards.
"The Māori Standards Authority will ensure that the mana of Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga is upheld across all state sectors. It ensures these public departments are accountable and that they engage in Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga in a meaningful way that is enduring rather than the tokenistic approach we see all too often," Waititi said.
The policy also guarantees that te reo Māori and Māori history will be made core curriculum subjects up to Year 10 at secondary schools and require all primary schools to incorporate te reo Māori into 25 per cent of their curriculum by 2026 and 50 per cent by 2030.
Waititi said he did not like the word compulsory, as it had many other connotations.
"It was compulsory for our ancestors not to speak te reo Māori, we are going to be kind. We want this to be a living language, not just for Māori people, but for all of Aotearoa."
"Our people, our country are still feeling the impacts of our language being beaten out of us in our education system and it was successful. We intend to start back there in a much more inclusive and less cruel way. Our education system must learn to respect and embrace te reo Māori as the indigenous language of this country. It all starts there."
The party will also require for all state-funded media broadcasters to have a basic fluency of te reo Māori if they wish to continue working in the industry.
"Wakatanay (Whakatāne) and Wongarey (Whangārei) are no longer acceptable over the media airwaves. We expect better.
"These changes are an incredibly important step in Aotearoa's recognition of Te Ao Māori as the indigenous peoples of this land and of Te Reo Māori being the official language of this country."
The Māori Party's policy for te reo Māori:
• Change New Zealand's name to Aotearoa by 2026.
• Replace all pākeha place names, cities and towns to their orignal Māori ingoa by 2026.
• Invest $50m into the establishment of a Māori Standards Authority; an independent statutory entity whose role will be to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards, including the monitoring and auditing of lanugae plans.
• Establish Te Marama o te reo Māori.
• Double Te Mātāwai funding ($28m).
• Remunerate primary and secondary schools and kaiako based on their competency of te reo Māori.
• Ensure that te reo Māori and Māori history are core cirriculum subjects up to Year-10 at Secondary Schools.
• Invest $40M for early childhood to secondary school kaiako to develop their reo.
• Require all primary schools to incorpoate te reo Māori into 25% of their curriculum by 2026 and 50% by 2030.
• Invest $20m into the development of te reo Māori resources.
• Require all state funded broadcasters (workforce) across all mediums to have a basic fluency level of te reo Māori.